Lilium lancifolium is one of several lilies that go by the common name of Tiger Lily and considered one of the earliest lilies to be domesticated. It was introduced to the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew by William Kerr who "discovered" several popular garden plants in Asia when he wasn't busy supposedly getting high on opium.
Last year there was an article in the NYT about Chris Wiesinger who is a modern day bulb hunter that really inspired my desire to collect this lily for my garden. I found a clump of these lilies growing on abandoned property and decided to collect them before they built a new house on the vacant lot. I was surprised at how large the bulbs were and how well rooted they were in such poor soil.
After disturbing them I didn't think they would bloom this year but all of the stems that have shot up are loaded with blooms. While admiring these blooms I have to wonder why they are commonly called tiger lilies if tigers have stripes and the flowers have spots. Wouldn't it make more sense to call them leopard lilies?
Anyway... they grow on erect, fuzzy stems that produce bulbils at the leaf axis and flower at about 4-5 feet tall. The plant is suppose to be edible expect for the pollen which I read is poisonous. You can take the bulbils and plant them to propagate this plant or pass them on or plant them in other areas of your garden. The bulbils that I planted last year already are producing bulbils of their own and I'm wondering if this is a bad sign for the future of my garden.
From my observations I don't think this plant is very popular with Chicago gardeners and I wonder why. It seems to be a hassle free perennial that has rewarded me with a lot of color and height in my garden with very little water. Since it was growing in a garden that hadn't been tended to in years I decided to allow it only to get rain water and even though they are growing in full sun I haven't seen any signs of stress.
Maybe these flowers aren't as pretty as the ones Chris Wiesinger sells on SoutherBulbs but I think they'd make a great addition to a garden.
BTW; Chris if you ever happen to stumble across this entry you really should start a garden blog to go with your site. I'd read your blog entries on rescuing bulbs and the blogosphere could use more male garden bloggers.